First Look

First Look summarizes new working papers, case studies, and publications produced by Harvard Business School faculty. Readers receive early knowledge of cutting-edge ideas before they enter the mainstream of business practice. For complete details on faculty research, see our Working Papers section.

October 9

Why your children should dig data

Not long ago the hot career dream was to be an astronaut. Not anymore—unless you are a roving robot. Today it pays to be a big-data miner. "Data scientists are difficult to hire and retain, but their skills will be necessary to any organization wishing to profit from big data," write Thomas Davenport and D.J. Patil in the Harvard Business Review article, "Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century."

Two new case studies delve into how executives make hard decisions to keep a business going and thriving.

Creditors and competitors

In "Bonne Chance," jewelry entrepreneur Jacob Zimmerman has some cash flow issues and a fierce competitor to contend with as he tries to introduce a new watch line, Swatch, into his largely Rolex shop. "Only 14 weeks before year end, he is reviewing the timing of his cash flows and the impact that various promotion options will have on his ability to place the initial order for Swatch inventory and deal with this crisis," write the case authors, James M. Sharpe and John O. Whitney.

Eye to the future

Warby Parker, a hip maker of vintage eyeware, is heading into its third year primed to double its workforce. "Warby Parker: Vision of a 'Good' Fashion Brand," explores challenges familiar to many fast-growing enterprises: How to preserve the company's inspiring culture, find quality partners, and integrate online and offline branding. Christopher Marquis and Laura Velez Villa authored the case.

 

Publications

Auctions, Market Mechanisms, and Their Applications

Abstract

This book constitutes the thoroughly refereed post-conference proceedings of the Second International ICST on Auctions, Market Mechanisms, and Their Applications (AMMA 2011) held in New York, August 22-23, 2011. The 22 revised full papers presented were carefully selected from numerous submissions covering topics such as school choice, markets for housing, energy, advertising, prediction markets, and the theory of market design.

Publisher's Link: http://www.amazon.com/Auctions-Market-Mechanisms-Their-Applications/dp/3642309127

Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

Abstract

Key to the effective use of big data are the analytical professionals known as "data scientists," who can both manipulate large and unstructured data sources and create insights from them. Data scientists are difficult to hire and retain, but their skills will be necessary to any organization wishing to profit from big data.

Read the article: http://hbr.org/2012/10/data-scientist-the-sexiest-job-of-the-21st-century/

Great Leaders Don't Need Experience

Abstract

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Read the article: http://hbr.org/2012/10/great-leaders-dont-need-experience/ar/1

 

Working Papers

Team Scaffolds: How Minimal In-Group Structures Support Fast-Paced Teaming

Abstract

Across many industries, particularly in health care delivery, interdependent work is performed under conditions that make bounded stable teams infeasible, creating a need to understand factors that foster teaming in the absence of team stability. Teaming refers to coordination and mutual adjustment during episodes of interdependent work. The present research investigates teaming in the high-stakes, fast-paced setting of a hospital emergency room and focuses on the effects of a new organizational structure, which we call a team scaffold, on teaming effectiveness and performance outcomes. Using a multi-method research design with qualitative interview and observational data and quantitative operational data analyzed with adapted network methods, we examine whether and how team scaffolds facilitate teaming in a dynamic work environment. Although team scaffolds were implemented with little or no membership stability, their introduction triggered significant changes in teaming networks and behaviors in ways that improved operational performance. Implications of team scaffolds for theory and practice are discussed.

Download the paper: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1987724

 

Cases & Course Materials

Warby Parker: Vision of a 'Good' Fashion Brand

Christopher Marquis and Laura Velez Villa
Harvard Business School Case 413-051

In its third year of existence and poised to double its workforce, Warby Parker attributed its success to an innovative approach in the eyewear industry and to the company culture that supported it. With a mission combining social and business goals, the company had articulated a stakeholder-centric model that benefited consumers through high-quality, fashionable, and affordable eyewear: the global community by donating, through sustainable channels, one pair of glasses per every pair sold; employees through a fun culture and inspiring work; and the environment, by becoming carbon neutral. The case covers the decisions that Warby Parker must make at the beginning of its third year of existence as a consequence of growth and in order to avoid losing momentum. Some of the challenges that Warby Parker faced were maintaining the company culture, finding adequate partners to preserve the quality of the "Buy a Pair, Give a Pair" program, and devising an integrated online and offline marketing strategy that fit the brand personality.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/413051-PDF-ENG

Bonne Chance

James M. Sharpe and John O. Whitney
Harvard Business School Case 813-049

With a competitor nipping at his heels, his bank reluctantly covering his recent overdraft, Jacob Zimmerman is considering expanding his midwestern retail jewelry business by bringing on the new Swatch watch line to augment his high end Rolex offerings. Only 14 weeks before year end, he is reviewing the timing of his cash flows and the impact that various promotion options will have on his ability to place the initial order for Swatch inventory and deal with this crisis.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/813049-PDF-ENG

Competency-destroying Technology Transitions: Why the Transition to Digital Is Particularly Challenging

Willy Shih
Harvard Business School Note 613-024

This note discusses technical aspects of the transition from analog to digital technology, and why incumbent firms like Kodak, Sony, and Panasonic experience such difficulties.

Purchase this note:
http://hbr.org/search/613024-PDF-ENG